Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and French engine-maker Safran's joint venture (JV) will commence the development of the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) and Deck-based Multi-Role Helicopter (DB-MRH) next month.
During an interview with Hindustan Times, HAL Chief CB Ananthakrishnan revealed that the HAL and Safran JV for helicopter engine development will become operational in the coming month.
Ananthakrishnan also expressed his expectations for engine production within the next four years.
"The JV will become operational next month, and production of engines is expected to begin in four years. These engines will be for the Indian multi-role helicopter (IMRH) and its deck-based version," he explained.
The demand for these state-of-the-art engines is estimated at around 400 units. The joint venture will be headquartered at HAL's helicopter production facility in Tumkuru, Karnataka.
HAL envisions producing up to 90 helicopters of various types annually in Tumkuru.
Ananthakrishnan elaborated, saying, "We are looking at basing the Safran-HAL JV at our new Tumakuru facility, which is the largest helicopter manufacturing facility in the country. We can manufacture up to 90 helicopters in Tumakuru every year, a mix of LCH, light utility helicopters and IMRH."
"With the JV based there, Tumakuru will become one big complex for helicopters and associated equipment. Safran and HAL will have a 50:50 work-share. IMRH could go into production with the new engine by 2031," the HAL chief added.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France in July, the deal to jointly develop next-generation turboshaft helicopter was announced.
It's worth noting that HAL and Safran have already signed a work-share agreement during Aero India 2023 in February 2023, to jointly develop these new-generation turboshaft engine.
Both companies will hold equal equity in the joint venture company and will share intellectual property rights (IPR) of the engine equally.
The HAL chief also stated that IMRH can go into production by 2031.
The IMRH is a 12-tonne helicopter being developed in India to replace the older Russian Mi-17 helicopters in the inventories of the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
On the other hand, the DB-MRH will be the naval variant for the Indian Navy, designed for sea operations from the decks of aircraft carriers and warships.
The HAL Chief also hopes to conclude the negotiations with US jet-engine maker General Electric (GE) for the production of GE F414 jet engines for Tejas Mk-2 in the next six to twelve months.
"We should have a deal in six months to a year. We expect GE to give us a price quotation soon and then discussions will gather momentum. Things are moving fast. Our target is to conclude the deal at a good price," Ananthakrishnan said.
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